Ukraine crisis: 100 prisoners escape from high-security jail hit by rocket as fighting rages in Donetsk

It was unclear whether the rocket was fired by government forces or rebels

More than 100 people have escaped from a high-security prison in eastern Ukraine after it was hit by a rocket that may have been fired by government forces.

The explosion killed at least one inmate in Donetsk prison, causing a riot that led to the escape of 106 inmates.

It was unclear whether the rocket was fired by the Ukrainian army and struck the jail by accident or whether it was targeted by rebels.

A spokesman for the city council said the fugitives included men jailed for murder, robbery and rape.

At least 10 homes, shops and garages were hit by bombing overnight by the Ukrainian military as the government attempted to regain control of the rebel stronghold.

Exchanges of rocket fire have become a daily feature of the fighting and an estimated 20,000 people are living without electricity.

A man runs out of the destroyed building after shelling in Donetsk on 10 August A man runs out of the destroyed building after shelling in Donetsk on 10 August Donetsk has been controlled by the self-styled Donetsk People’s Republic of pro-Russian separatists since April, when militants began occupying government buildings across Ukraine following the collapse of the Yanukovych administration.

The army has launched a major campaign to re-take control of the city from rebels and battles raged on Sunday, despite a request from the pro-Russian rebels for a cease-fire to prevent a “humanitarian catastrophe.”

Ukrainian officials demanded that the insurgents surrender instead.

More than 2,000 residential buildings had been damaged by shelling by Saturday and at least 300,000 of Donetsk's one million residents have fled.

The violence has claimed the lives of over 1,300 people since April, according to the UN, and one person was killed and 10 more injured in bombing on Sunday.

Children look through a car's back windscreen with sign reading 'children', as they drive in Donetsk region on 9 August Children look through a car's back windscreen with sign reading 'children', as they drive in Donetsk region on 9 August In a press conference in Kiev, Andriy Lysenko, a spokesman for Ukraine's National Security and Defence Council, said the only way for the rebels in Donetsk to save their lives would be to “lay down their arms and give up”.

"If white flags come up and they lay down their arms, nobody is going to shoot at them," he said.

"We have not seen any practical steps yet, just a statement."

Associated Press reporters heard 25 loud explosions in as many minutes around noon on Sunday.

More than 10 residential buildings, as well as a hospital and a shop, were heavily damaged by shelling on Saturday night and several buses caught in the crossfire were still burning on Sunday morning.

Passengers fleeing Donetsk on a train to Moscow on 10 August Passengers fleeing Donetsk on a train to Moscow on 10 August “This is a real war. It's impossible to live in this city, I've been sleeping in the basement for the past week,” said Inna Drobyshevskaya, a 48-year-old lawyer.

“We don't want Novorossiya (New Russia) for this price,” she added, referring to a term used by rebels to describe the parts of eastern Ukraine seeking independence from Kiev.

The Government met the request for a ceasefire with caution, claiming the move could be used to increase international pressure to allow a Russian aid mission to enter Ukraine, which they claim could be a pretext to bring in Russian soldiers.

An estimated 20,000 are reportedly massed near the border with Ukraine.

The Ukrainian President, Petro Poroshenko, has repeatedly accused Russia of providing arms and expertise to the rebels, which the Kremlin denies.

He issued a statement on Saturday saying his government was prepared to accept humanitarian assistance in eastern Ukraine.

But he said the aid must come in without military assistance, pass through border checkpoints under Ukrainian control and be an international mission.

The White House said President Barack Obama and the German Chancellor Angela Merkel agreed that any Russian intervention in Ukraine was unacceptable and would violate international law.

The US President spoke with David Cameron about the Ukraine crisis and the wars in Iraq and the Middle East on Saturday.

A statement from Downing Street said both leaders “expressed grave concern about reports that Russian military vehicles have crossed the border into Ukraine and that Russian armed forces are exercising for a 'humanitarian intervention’.

“The Prime Minister and President are absolutely clear that such a so-called humanitarian mission would be unjustified and illegal.”

Additional reporting by AP

Read more: Ukraine takes rebel ceasefire offer with a pinch of salt
Kiev ready to sanction Russia in fight to stop ‘financing terrorism’
Rebels in Donetsk say discipline is good after executions to 'prevent chaos
Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
ebooks
ebooksA special investigation by Andy McSmith
  • Get to the point
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Chiropractic Assistant

£16500 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Chiropractic Assistant is needed in a ...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Account Executive - Midlands

£18000 - £26000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: They work with major vehicle ma...

Recruitment Genius: Web Developer

£28000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This company provides coaching ...

Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application Developer

£30000 - £40000 per annum + Benefits: Ashdown Group: Front-End UI Application ...

Day In a Page

Where the spooks get their coffee fix: The busiest Starbucks in the US is also the most secretive

The secret CIA Starbucks

The coffee shop is deep inside the agency's forested Virginia compound
Revealed: How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Loch Ness Monster 'sighting'

How the Establishment closed ranks over fallout from Nessie 'sighting'

The Natural History Museum's chief scientist was dismissed for declaring he had found the monster
One million Britons using food banks, according to Trussell Trust

One million Britons using food banks

Huge surge in number of families dependent on emergency food aid
Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths 2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

2,500 years of history in 3,000 amazing objects

Excavation at Italian cafe to fix rising damp unearths trove
The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey, 25 years on

The Hubble Space Telescope's amazing journey 25 years on

The space telescope was seen as a costly flop on its first release
Did Conservative peer Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

Did Lord Ashcroft quit the House of Lords to become a non-dom?

A document seen by The Independent shows that a week after he resigned from the Lords he sold 350,000 shares in an American company - netting him $11.2m
Apple's ethnic emojis are being used to make racist comments on social media

Ethnic emojis used in racist comments

They were intended to promote harmony, but have achieved the opposite
Sir Kenneth Branagh interview: 'My bones are in the theatre'

Sir Kenneth Branagh: 'My bones are in the theatre'

The actor-turned-director’s new company will stage five plays from October – including works by Shakespeare and John Osborne
The sloth is now the face (and furry body) of three big advertising campaigns

The sloth is the face of three ad campaigns

Priya Elan discovers why slow and sleepy wins the race for brands in need of a new image
How to run a restaurant: As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food

How to run a restaurant

As two newbies discovered, there's more to it than good food
Record Store Day: Remembering an era when buying and selling discs were labours of love

Record Store Day: The vinyl countdown

For Lois Pryce, working in a record shop was a dream job - until the bean counters ruined it
Usher, Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert as part of the Global Poverty Project

Mary J Blige and Will.i.am to give free concert

The concert in Washington is part of the Global Citizen project, which aims to encourage young people to donate to charity
10 best tote bags

Accessorise with a stylish shopper this spring: 10 best tote bags

We find carriers with room for all your essentials (and a bit more)
Paul Scholes column: I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England

Paul Scholes column

I hear Manchester City are closing on Pep Guardiola for next summer – but I'd also love to see Jürgen Klopp managing in England
Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

Jessica Ennis-Hill: 'I just want to give it my best shot'

The heptathlete has gone from the toast of the nation to being a sleep-deprived mum - but she’s ready to compete again. She just doesn't know how well she'll do...